Morgan J. O’Brien




Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, 1895-1905


Justice O’Brien also sat on the bench of the 1st Department; more information can be found HERE.

Justice Morgan J. O’Brien was born on April 28, 1852 in New York City to an Irish immigrant family. He was educated at the city public schools and earned degrees from St. John’s College, now Fordham University, in 1872, the College of St. Francis Xavier in 1873 and Columbia University Law School in 1875. O’Brien was admitted to the bar in 1875 and began practicing law, specializing in corporate law. Hewitt appointed O’Brien to the position of corporation counsel for the city of New York in 1887.

Later that year, he was elected to a 14-year term as a Justice of the State Supreme Court. He was only 35 years old, the youngest person at the time to be elected to that position. Justice O’Brien was appointed to the General Term of the Supreme Court in 1892 by Governor Hill. When the Appellate Division was established in 1895, Justice O’Brien was named one of its first members by Governor Morton. He was re-elected to the Supreme Court in 1901 and re-designated to the Appellate Division. In 1905, Governor Higgins elevated him to the position of Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department. He retired from the bench in 1906 to practice insurance law at the firm of Boardman, Platt & Dunning.

Justice O’Brien was appointed chairman of the city planning and survey committee in 1926, and two years later he represented the U.S. at the Pan-American Conference in Havana. In 1936 he chaired the Citizens Charter Campaign Committee, leading to the adoption of a new city charter. He also served as a trustee of several organizations, including the Equitable Life Assurance Society, the New York public schools and the New York Public Library, and as a director of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. O’Brien was a prominent Catholic layman and was knighted by the Pope, and participated in several clubs and charitable organizations.

He was married to Rose Mary Crimmins for over fifty years and had ten children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He died on June 16, 1937 at the age of 85.



“Honorable Morgan J. O’Brien.” Eminent Members of the Bench and Bar of New York. San Francisco: Knight- Counihan, 1943. 296. Print.

“Justice M. J. O’Brien Resigns from the Bench.” New York Times (1857-1922): 7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Nov 06 1906. Web. 11 June 2012.

“Morgan J. O’Brien Dead at Age of 85.” New York Times (1923-Current file): 23. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Jun 17 1937. Web. 11 June 2012.

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